COOL CLASSES: “The ‘Rise’ of the Novel”

COOL CLASSES: “The ‘Rise’ of the Novel”

Class name: The ‘Rise’ of the Novel

Taught by: Visiting Assistant Professor of English David Diamond


Here’s what Diamond has to say about his course:

This course introduces students to the early English novel, as well as to the tradition of scholarship that seeks to explain its origins. What is a novel, exactly, and what are the cultural conditions that give it definition? Why do we tend to think of this literary form, and the period during which it emerged, the 18th century, in terms of metaphors of progress or rising action? I hope that answering such questions will help students develop an appreciation for the enduring relevance of the aesthetic, social, and political concerns of 18th-century fiction. I also hope that, by fostering the critical practice of close reading, the course will lead students simultaneously to intimacy with the texts under consideration and to big questions about, for example, the ways we attach to other people (real or imagined); the mechanics of power and consent; and the proper shape of history.

I was excited to create this course because the novel as a form offers a clear point of access to a period that, for today’s undergraduate students, can feel distant. As a kind of popular entertainment, the novel persists, and its persistence raises fascinating implications for the chronological organization of literary studies and related disciplines. A course focused on the origins of the novel, therefore, promotes self-reflection in teacher and student, unsettling our assumptions about the progress of literary history. And, not for nothing, the primary texts themselves are formally and thematically weird in ways that I love to share with students!




See what other courses the Department of English is offering this semester.

Cool Classes is a recurring series on the Haverblog that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford College experience. 

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